But many unaware of potential payroll complications
Working far from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has crossed the minds of many Canadians.
Nearly one out of four considered working from abroad while keeping the same job, and 39 per cent say they would keep their current job but live in another province or country if their employer lets them do it, according to a survey by the National Payroll Institute.
However, few people are doing it: 90 per cent of respondents continued to work from their home province throughout the pandemic. And even those who relocated did not go too far, with 73 per cent remaining in Canada and 26 per cent going to the United States.
Still, “Canadian employers would be wise to get ahead of the curve by preparing policies and processes to offer the increasing flexibility that workers are seeking out,” says Peter Tzanetakis, president of the National Payroll Institute.
“Today, flexibility is an expectation and key differentiator for businesses competing for talent in a limited pool. It's not a huge leap to think that the ability to work not just from home but from anywhere will be next.”
The opportunity to experience another part of the country or world (46 per cent) is the top reason why Canadians would want to relocate, but many are also hoping to save money (38 per cent), improve work-life balance (29 per cent), invest in property in a different market (22 per cent) and live closer to family and friends (21 per cent).
However, 77 per cent of Canadians would not accept any pay decrease as a trade-off for the freedom to work anywhere.
More than half (53 per cent) of those currently working from home would look for a new job with remote options if their company wanted them back at the office five days a week, finds another report.
Complexities of working anywhere
But moving to another place while keeping the same job comes with significant payroll complications for both employers and employees, says Tzanetakis.
For one, there’s the tax implications of cross-border work. Other factors to consider include employment standards, workers' compensation and the rights and benefits of employees, and remittance and reporting requirements for employers.
“Moving abroad while continuing to work for one’s current employer is not a simple proposition,” he says. “Workers cannot simply pick up and move without working with their employer and their payroll team. Doing so can have serious consequences for individuals and can result in non-compliance with legislation, and fines, for businesses.”
And this is a mystery to many Canadians: nearly half (48 per cent) admit to being completely unaware of these implications and 34 per cent are “generally aware” of these matters but would need more information from their employer.
Workcations provide a lot of benefits to workers, but it also brings challenges, including a high cost of living (71 per cent) and a negative impact on one’s work-life balance (56 per cent), according to another study.